LOWER, wider and with a longer rear overhang, the latest Kia Ceed looks set to continue its successful journey in fine fettle.

Ever since the first one rolled off the production line in 2006, it has been a European star for the Korean company.

That's in large part due to Kia's European design and product development team, which ensured that it would find favour in this part of the world. It now accounts for more than a quarter of Kia's European sales.

So with the latest tweaks what you now get is the most dynamic and sporty volume car to drive in the Kia stable and also a car with a reputation as being reliable and practical.

In addition to the hatchback, there's a higher ride to be had in the XCeed, an estate version and the svelte Proceed for those looking for the sportiest of the bunch.

But here I am testing the hatchback in GT-Line specification with the poke of a turbo charged 1.5-litre petrol engine that will shoot from standstill to 60mph in about eight seconds and deliver a fuel economy figure just short of 50mph.

It has the looks and the engine, but what else do you get for your money? As standard, it comes with a six-speaker audio system, DAB radio and MP3 compatibility and USB and AUX ports for connection of a media device, Bluetooth with voice recognition and music streaming and easy smartphone connection.

You also get an eight-inch touchscreen navigation system combined with a 4.2-inch colour supervision cluster display and trip computer, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Ride quality is firm but acceptably comfortable, and when it comes to handling the GT-Line simply relishes both city driving and open road motoring through its six-speed manual gearbox or the alternative seven-speed dual clutch automatic.

The new model also retains two trademark Kia features the so-called tiger nose grille and stunning ice cube LED daytime running lights as standard.

Constructed on Kia's new K2 platform, the Ceed is 20mm wider (1,800mm) and 23mm lower (1,447mm) than the outgoing model. Its wheelbase remains the same at 2,650mm, with the front overhang shortened by 20mm (to 880mm), and rear overhang extended by 20mm (now 780mm). This new platform has allowed for a larger boot, which now has a capacity of 395 litres, as well as greater shoulder room for rear passengers, more headroom in the front row, and a lower driving position.

The GT-Line exterior introduces a a satin chrome and gloss black grille surround, 17 or 18-inch model-specific alloy wheels among other design touches

Inside, GT-Line gets get a a sportier ambience that includes a black cloth roof lining, metallic scuff plates, sports seats and a leather-trimmed D-shaped steering wheel.

Kia has not only successfully made the Ceed more dynamic to drive through a new independent suspension system and more direct steering but also cut down noise and vibration in the cabin. It really is quite refined.

The new Ceed line-up also sees the 1.6-litre diesel engine enhanced with the addition of 48-volt mild hybrid technology. The 134bhp 1.6-litre CRDi 48-volt mild hybrid powertrain is offered with a new six-speed clutch-by-wire dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Kia's intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) is engineered to boost fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, while retaining the driver engagement of a conventional manual transmission.

Instead of a mechanical linkage, the iMT's clutch operates purely electronically. Although the iMT introduces a new clutch-by-wire technology in place of a mechanical link between driver and transmission, it retains the same operation and driver engagement as a conventional manual.

The new transmission will be adopted across a number of future Kia models.


Kia Ceed 1.5 T-GDi GT-Line

Price: £24,225 (Ceed range from £19,705)

Engine: Four-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol producing 158bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 8.1 seconds; top speed 130mph

Economy: 49.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 129g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****